Thursday, 02 February 2012
The universe is filled with great questions, many of which the answers define our very existence. As Stephen hawking once said answering those questions is our greatest legacy as a race. I would even dare say that those questions are the reason we’re here. It is our explorative edge that drives us forward. It’s been said that the universe contains wonders to satiate desires subtle and gross. Unfortunately it’s the fanatics of our society that hold us back from that legacy.
Most people don’t like absolutes. (It’s my way or the highway.) Absolutes are about control and validation, little else. Some people think they know everything, so they have to intrude on everyone else’s lives to force others to conform to their beliefs, because in their mind, their beliefs are fact.
On the question of God there are three basic positions. They are the Theist, the Agnostic, and the Atheist. Then in those positions people tend to lean on two sides.
- Theists lean from moderate to fundamentalist. (Though I prefer to use the word fanatic to describe them)
- Agnostics tend to lean towards theism or Atheism. (I lean theist)
- Atheists lean from moderate to fanatic as well. (Secular fanatic, specifically)
So when I use the term “secular-fanatic” you should know I’m NOT talking about all Atheists and Agnostics even though there are many who still to this day claim that I do. (That’s a strawman fallacy)
What's most annoying of all is if you refuse to validate their beliefs with your conformity, they attack you by calling you stupid (If they’re a secular-fanatic) or a heathen. (If they’re religious-fundamentalists) But if their facts are as absolute as they insist then why do they need you to agree with them so badly?
Currently in the US, the major debate between these sides take between two to four forms. (Depending on your point of view) They are as follows:
- Six dayism v Eonism,
- Evolution v Species integrity,
- Intelligent design v Exclusion a Priori,
- Big bang v.... I'm not really sure why fundamentalists have an issue with this idea, really. Or what they propose to oppose this concept.
Most of the above debates are actually a distraction from the real issue anyway.
For example, one of the closest guarded secrets that so-called conservative Christians don’t want you to know is that scripture doesn’t actually say that the universe is 6,000 years old. And frankly it's a claim I don't buy into. Even if you maintain that Genesis chapter 1 refers to seven 24 hour time periods, the 6-K count comes from a catholic priest who lived centuries after all the inspired scripture writers died, and he used a great deal of conjecture in his figures. Much of that conjecture is quite debatable at that.
Then on the other side of that coin, the biggest fallacy that the secular fanatics make is that even if the theory of evolution holds up as absolute fact, it simply could be that evolution is a tool of God. (The existence of a creator is simply NOT mutually exclusive with the process of evolution) Think about it, why couldn’t God have used evolution to shape life on earth?
Also I expect that the reason that secular fanatics attack so aggressively is because modern dogma seems to demand that if the universe really is only 6000 years, (or less than 15 billion) then agnosticism falls apart. (As does the self-worth of the deep rooted-fanatics) I don’t buy that either. A hundred years ago the dogma was that if the universe were shown to have a beginning at all, that that would prove the existence of a creator.
Lemaitre came along and demonstrated that the universe was expanding, and thus logically had to have a beginning. Both secular and Christian fanatics spit vitriol at him, but in the end the truth prevailed. Atheists adjusted their thinking, as did Christians.
I'll tackle the age of the universe in a future article. For now let's get to the bigger issue: Is there a God? I like to break issues like this down into their simplest form. That seems to be the best way to explain them to others. This issue breaks into 5 basic questions:
- What is a deity?
- What is God?
- Do gods of any kind exist?
- Was Jesus God
- If so, what evidence backs him up?
To oppose the question of what God is, Atheists like to invoke the term magic. Modern dogma dictates that, anyone who believes in magic is obviously a fool because there’s no such thing as magic. But that depends greatly on how you define magic. Merriam Webster defines magic simply as: “supernatural powers” (No help there)
Arthur C Clarke once maintained that Any sufficiently advanced concept can be indistinguishable from magic to the primitive mind. I like to think of it in terms of the caveman and the gun. If you could travel back in time, and shoot the cave-man’s best friend with your gun, because he's never seen a gun before, he would think it's magic.
I'd expect that God is very much like that, but on a much grander scale.
The Law of Causality
The primary argument that theists put forth is the apparent fact that the universe seems to be an effect. (Ergo it needs a cause) The law of cause and effect is very real in our universe. It’s also the big issue we’re debating about when it comes to the beginning of all things. In other words, whatever it is that caused the universe to come into being, must logically have preceded the universe.
But the more you understand about relativity, the more this fact gets muddied up as well. It’s been shown that time is NOT a ridged construct. When exactly an hour passes for you, that does not necessitate that exactly an hour passes for me as well.
That is because however long an hour is, depends also on your speed, and distance from a gravitational source. (For example: the GPS satellites depend on an exact tracking of time to compute your location on earth, so NASA had to set the clocks wrong on purpose, to keep them in sync with ground clocks.)
No matter what speed you are traveling, light will always pass you by at about 186,000 miles per second. That is true, no matter which direction you are going or the speed or location of the source of the light. (You can observe this fact by closely watching the planets and moons of our solar system from the ground over the course of a year.)
The reason why this is true is because the faster you travel, the tighter a second from your point of view is stretched out from an objective viewpoint. The latest cosmological theories suggest that time is a dimension similar to the three dimensions of a cube.
From the inside it appears that everything happens from one moment to the next with time moving in one direction. (Toward the future) But in looking from the outside into the universe, everything happens (Both cause and effect) simultaneously.
Further if you are on the outside, then you logically should by definition exist before and after the universe and all at the moment you exit it. Whatever point in time you are born or exit become irrelevant.
(It’s like that old riddle goes: If you could stop time, complete a particular task, then start time up again; how long would time have been frozen? The answer depends on your point of view.)
Exclusion a Priori
So what caused the universe? Theists specifically argue that the cause was their God. Then Atheists argue that the cause is anything but a God of any kind. This is called Exclusion a Priori. The kicker is that then they claim the “anything but” solution is the simpler statement and declare Occam’s razor. That fails on two points:
- It assumes the rules are the same outside our universe as inside.
- They still have not provided an alternative idea.
So it is NOT a simpler solution to the problem. It's just a simpler statement. That makes the point fallacious, because it's an argument of semantics.
The argument is simply that any argument for an intelligence to have designed the universe is inherently a religious idea, and should be labeled as such. And that label somehow excludes the idea from science. (In other words they are saying that by labeling and idea as religious it magically makes the idea untrue.)
It is reasonable to conclude that whatever did make the universe preceded the universe. Where secular fanatics could make a good point is in that whatever that is, is not necessarily an intelligent being or life form. And that's a quite different argument from the for-mentioned "anything-but" position.
That would then be the point where theists once again MUST return to logic.
The universe is governed by laws. Merriam Webster defines a law as a principle stating something that always works the same way under the same conditions. In other words the Universe is basically a great big machine that operates under strict set of principles.
These principles are commonly called laws, and are NOT subject to change. Theoretically they apply here on earth the same as they do out at the other edge of the Milky Way galaxy, or even in other galaxies on the other side of the cosmos. They cannot be broken.
We have from time to time found ways around them, or bent them a little. We have learned to play some rules off on others, but we cannot break them entirely.
Those laws also make order in the universe possible. Without them; planets and stars cannot form, matter would not have integrity, and life cannot exist. If you except all of this to be true, and most rationalists do, then it’s only a matter time before you ask; how something that is NOT intelligent could possibly have put it all in place.
This is all well shy of being able to say for certain that something of the sort couldn’t create the universe without intelligence. But I expect what’s really missing from the Atheist side of the debate. An actual something that could cause the universe, and cause it to be so ordered.
You probably noticed that I have yet to get into the questions about Christianity and Jesus. That’s the subject of a future post. Just getting to this point has been insanely long and there is at least twice as much to cover on the subject of Jesus.
Is this a valid argument for the existence of God? Do you have anything to add to the argument?